Tuesday, November 30, 2010

memory place

6 years ago I did a field recording in a newly constructed residential area on the outskirt of Brussels, and I'm thinking if I (re)make an electro-acoustic music out of the materials I got there. One may point out that there is a privacy issue here; the more controversial may be that it includes some children's voices. But that part is actually interesting. For example, a little boy was playing with a radio controlled car; the wind was blowing. When listening to it I can sense the car moving. I could recreate this by buying a radio controlled car(and then how to move the car could become part of the composition...interesting), yet I still want to stick with the place.

I once made something with the materials. The reason why I went there was that the roads of the area were ridiculously named after Hollywood celebrities: "Clos Marilyn Monroe," "Chemin Alfred Hitchcock." I photographed those street signs. And also I asked one of my friends who had grown up near there to talk about his childhood memories and taped it. At that time I couldn't formulate the subject of the piece well, but I still have all the materials.

chemin alfred hitchcock

I've found a sound artist called Andra McCartney, who studied with Hildegard Westerkamp, on Academia edu. In her paper, Sounding Places: Situated Conversations Through the Soundscape Compositions of Hildegard Westerkamp, she details Westerkamp's works: how are they composed?; how are they responded by the audiences? She even performed Westerkamp's Moments of Laughter for female voice and two-channel tape(1988)(following the link, you can listen to the excerpts), which the female voice part can be performed at live. According to McCartney, when it was premiered, the audiences' reaction was rather disappointing. They perceived the piece "too personal." The tape part was mainly composed with Westerkamp's own daughter's voice. When a baby discovers the self and the other, she laughs. Though I've never listened to the whole piece or seen the performance, it appears to me very interesting.

Probably what we perceive as "too personal" has been changed since the time the piece was premiered. I even think "too personal" has been rather popular since the 1990s, and now it may be changing again in these times of, as Eva Illouz puts it, "cold intimacies."

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